The Centre is reconsidering the use of 'PAVA shells', recently introduced in Kashmir for crowd control as an alternative to pellet guns, as these proved to be "less effective" due to a number of anomalies.
The security forces in Jammu and Kashmir, particularly the CRPF, have provided an on-ground assessment, saying the 'chilli-based' PAVA shells were not able to "fully deter" the protesting crowds, official sources said.
The self-melting canisters of the shells were taking time to melt and as a result, the crowds were able to throw them back at the forces in quick time.
The effectiveness of the shells' chilli fumes after exploding also needed to be enhanced, the sources said. The Border Security Force's (BSF) Tear Smoke Unit (TSU), based in Gwalior, has been asked to fix these anomalies and send a fresh lot after reconfiguring the shells.
An expert panel was constituted by the Union Home Ministry to find an alternative to pellet guns for crowd control following an uproar in Kashmir after its usage led to fatalities.
The panel had zeroed in on 'PAVA shells' which were considered "less lethal" and were capable of "immobilising the target temporarily".
'PAVA' stands for Pelargonic Acid Vanillylamide, also called Nonivamide, and is an organic compound found in natural chilli pepper.
On the Scoville scale (to measure the power of chilli), PAVA is categorised as "above peak", meaning it will "severely irritate and paralyse" humans, but the irritation and paralysis will remain "temporary" in nature. It is also used as a food additive to add pungency, flavouring and the spicy effect to eatables.